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10 Indispensable Items that Your Dog Shouldn’t Go Without

The Ultimate Big Dog Gift Guide is here and filled with 10 exceptional products that are sure to put a smile on the face of every large breed or giant breed dog and dog lover on your list.

If you are looking for a special gift for a special dog or person in your life this holiday season, look no further than this list!

While I do not have ALL of the items on this list, they are all products I have either purchased myself or plan to purchase this holiday season for my Mastiffs.  

NONE of these products were sent to me by the company in exchange for a review or for placement on this list and I am NOT being compensated in any way by any of these companies.

10. The Green Pet Shop Self-Cooling Pet Pad

While Cooling Pet Pad is not a product I have used, it is one that I plan on buying this year for Junior and Sulley so I wanted to include it in the gift guide this year.

If you have been following for any length of time, you know what a source of frustration their hock and elbow calluses have been for me. With the Arizona heat and the irresistible temptation of the cool tile floors, getting my big dogs to lay on orthopedic dog beds or soft cushioned bedding has been a constant struggle.  I have been on a crusade to find a solution that will heal their calluses and this Self-Cooling Pet Pad is one such possible solution.

The pressure-activated, non-toxic, cooling gel formula inside the Cooling Pet Pad is activated by your pet’s weight/heat, lasts for up to 3 hours and automatically recharges itself after 15-20 minutes of non-use.  The cooling pad cover is machine washable which is essential for any big dog household.

For more on my series on big dog elbow and hock calluses, read:

9. Real Dog Box

Ultimate big dog gift guide

I am going to be a little harsh here, but I always want to be honest with you.  

I have not found a good subscription service that truly meets the needs of big dogs.  And I have tried several who market specifically to us large breed and giant breed dog owners, only to be disappointed (at best) with the quality and durability of their toys and treats.  

That is, until I started ordering from Real Dog Box (formerly Real Pet Food).

Real Dog Box is a monthly subscription service that offers treats and/or chews for dogs of all sizes. Hand-selected from locally sourced meat, all of the treats and chews are air dried with no processing or other ingredients added.  They are 100% meat and 100% delicious… or so say Junior and Sulley.

I order the monthly chew box which contains a variety of light, medium and heavyweight chews, 2-3 per package (8-10 chews per box).  

For the price and quality of the chews, I truly can’t recommend Real Dog Box highly enough!  This gift guide wouldn’t be complete without Real Dog Box!

If you would like to read our FULL review of Real Dog Box and watch our unboxing video review, go to:

**BONUS!! Grab your FREE bag of treats with your first order! Click here to grab yours! Happy chewing!

The latest on Youtube:

8. Doggone Good Rapid Rewards Treat Pouch and Clicker

This is a two-for-one gift guide idea because, for me, these two items go hand in hand.  I rarely use my treat bag without my clicker and vice versa.

There are so many options out there for treat bags, but Doggone Good is the brand I use and recommend.  

Doggone Good Rapid Rewards Treat Pouch is both spacious and flexible for any dog training purpose.  Because Junior and Sulley aren’t the most food-motivated dogs, I have to plan for more than one type of treat, squeakers, and, on occasion, a ball, when we are training to maintain their interest and excitement.  With the separate compartments inside the pouch, I am able to organize all of the items and treats I need in one convenient, easy-to-access place.

It has a magnetic closure with cord pull for quick open/close operation, a waste-bag dispenser feature (one side only), and a pocket on the side perfect for a clicker I have only ever used the belt clip attached to the back of the pouch, but it has belt loops as a secondary option for dog owners who want that. Not only are these pouches machine washable, they are Made in the USA which is a huge plus!

treat pouch

Doggone Good Treat Pouch

Very roomy treat pouch with lots of added storage for a clicker, waste bags, and even your cell phone!

7. West Paw Design Dog Toys

Featured in my Top 10 Best Toys for Big Dogs: Battle-Tested and Big Dog Approved, West Paw Design continues to be my absolute favorite when it comes to toys for large breed and giant breed dogs. Hands down, they are the best for quality and durability, two things sorely lacking in most dog toys on the market today. 

And with a testimonial like that, of course, they have a place on the gift guide this year!

Made in Montana, West Paw Design toys are dishwasher safe, latex-free, FDA-compliant (meaning it’s safe to eat off), and come with their Love It Guarantee.

Check out the rest of my comments about West Paw Design in Top 10 Best Toys for Big Dogs and get your big dog one today!

Some Of Our Favorite West Paw Toys

There are so many more toys, treats and accessories to check out from West Paw. They truly are one of my favorites!!

6. Big Dog Mom Elbow Butter

Based on the popularity of How to Treat Dog Calluses Naturally with DIY Elbow Butter and Essential Oils and how much I love this product myself, I am including it in the gift guide for this year.

While it is not a hard product to make if you have all of the ingredients and the time, some in the Big Dog Mom Community have expressed a desire to be able to just buy the finished product.  

Unfortunately, I simply do not have the space or time to make elbow butter full time, so I’ve gathered all of the ingredients together here in my Amazon shop and filmed this tutorial with Big Barker to illustrate just how easy it is. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

The latest on Youtube:

5. Nesco Gardenmaster Digital Pro Food Dehydrator

If you don’t have a dehydrator yet, this product is an absolute MUST for every dog owner and a product I just had to include in the gift guide!

We’ve all heard the tragic stories of dogs losing their lives from tainted dog treats.  The documentary Pet Fooled showcased a few of these stories which I find as scary as they are heartbreaking.  

As a result, I have pretty much stopped buying bagged treats in the store for my dogs. I choose to make their treats instead so I have complete control over the ingredients I use.  You can read How To Make Healthy And Delicious Liver Treats For Your Dog as one example.

From banana chips, apple slices, and homemade liver to delicious beef jerky, the number of snacks and treats you can make for your dogs and your family are endless!  And, while there are a plethora of options out there, I highly recommend the NESCO dehydrator.

I bought my NESCO almost 20 years ago and it works as well now as it did when I bought it.  I love it! The one I have is not digital and doesn’t have a timer, so I am linking to an upgraded version of the one I have… it’s on my wishlist too this year!  This NESCO dehydrator has a patented airflow system that ensures even temperature control and drying without the need to rotate the trays.  And a huge bonus – it is Made in the USA in Wisconsin.

nesco dehydrator

NESCO Dehydrator

Second my bread maker and Instant Pot, this NESCO Dehydrator is one of my absolute favorite tools in the kitchen!!

4. Best Book of the Year for Dog Owners

Ok, so this one is not new, but it is one that I believe EVERY dog owner should have in their reference library!  Coming in at #4 on the gift guide this year is…

Calming Signals

Turid Rugaas is a Norwegian dog trainer and behaviorist who dedicated her life’s work to studying canine social interactions.  She uses the term calming signals to describe specific body language that dogs use to avoid conflict, invite play, and communicate with one another.

Understanding these signals is absolutely critical to understanding your dog and how he’s feeling and what he’s trying to tell you.  This is how canines talk to one another, and if we care to pay attention, how they would like to talk to us.

Calming signals book

On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals

A must-have book for every dog owner’s library!!

3. Ruggable Rugs

This is is a product that, while I have not used it myself, is one I absolutely love.  I have been looking for some non-slip rugs and runners to use in our mostly tile floor house, and a friend in the Big Dog Mom Community raved about Ruggable Rugs so I knew I needed to check them out.

This product is essentially a 2-piece rug system, combining a decorative and machine washable (YES!) cover with a cushioned non-slip rug pad.  It is water repellent, stain-resistant and machine washable, making it perfect for families with pets and kids. Ruggable Rugs are available in a variety of colors and patterns, indoors or outdoors.  

And, if all that wasn’t enough, the entire rug is manufactured in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.  The only downside that I can see is that Ruggable Rugs are not entirely manufactured here in the United States. 

In spite of that, I feel this product warranted a mention on the gift guide this year and would make a terrific gift for the big dog lover in your life!  

Ruggable Rug

Ruggable Rugs

With many positive testimonials from big dog owners, I think it’s worth checking out Ruggable if you are in need of a rug or runner in your home. They are beautiful and washable!!

2. Heininger Portable PET Twistep Dog Step

This product is so great and such an integral part of my life with big dogs, that it had to be included in the gift guide again this year.  Last year the Twistep was ranked number 1 on my list as the BEST product of the year for big dog owners.  This year, it falls to a very respectable number 2.  

I drive an older Lincoln Navigator so the Twistep dog hitch step makes it super easy for my two Mastiffs to enter or exit the vehicle.  No more lugging around or having to store a bulky and heavy dog ramp. The Twistep swivels into position quickly and easily and when you don’t need it, you easily stow it under the bumper, out of the way.  

The Heininger Twistep is now available for both SUV’s and pickup trucks that have a tailgate that folds down over the hitch which is fantastic!

If you drive an SUV or a truck and are looking for an easy, safe way to get your big dogs in and out, look no further!  The Heininger Twistep gets our highest rating of 5 paws for awesomeness!  

Read my full review of the Twistep here:

Hitch Step or Dog Ramp? A Mastiff Owner’s 7-Year Journey With Both! Big Dog Mom

Heininger Twistep

Write a little something here about this item and why you recommend it.

1. Kurgo Journey Air Dog Harness

Ultimate big dog gift guide -2

Can I get a drum roll…..

Coming in at number 1 on the gift guide this year is the Kurgo Journey Air Dog Harness.

After Junior’s Wobblers diagnosis, I set out to find a harness for him that would eliminate pressure on his neck.

Traditional collars and gentle leaders put pressure on the neck and, for dogs with Wobbler Syndrome, can cause additional damage to the cervical vertebrae where the spinal cord is being compressed or the discs are degenerating.

My challenge was finding a harness that would be high quality, functional, and fit my very large young Mastiff.  His measurements exceeded the limit for nearly all of the harnesses I looked at with the exception of Kurgo. While this harness is definitely snug on Junior, my guess is the XL size will fit 98% of all giant breed dogs out there.

The Kurgo Journey Air Dog Harness is perfect for running, hiking, and walking and includes a deep V-neck to help reduce strain on the neck and allow freedom of movement.  It has a front and back leash attachment and a handle on the back for assistance if the dog needs it. It comes in several colors with reflective trim for nighttime visibility.  And is easy to put on and take off and adjust for a custom fit. Lastly, while I haven’t tested this feature out, it is machine washable.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Kurgo products are designed and manufactured in the USA and offer a commitment to only the highest quality with a lifetime guarantee.

If you are looking for an alternative to a traditional collar or gentle leader for your big dog, Junior and I highly recommend checking out Kurgo.  We think you will be impressed and ready to finally take your journey with FIT and FREEDOM!

And if you have any questions about dog harnesses for big dogs, check out The Best Dog Harness for Large Dogs [Definitive Buyers Guide]!


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  1. Do you have any recommendations for doggy doors? We have a Boxer/Great Pyrenees that weighs 110# and stands about 28-29” at the front shoulder.

    1. Thank you for the great question, Denise! Unfortunately, I don’t. I will make it a point to do some research on doggie doors for a future post. As it is, we don’t have one and I’m quite sure there are none on the market big enough for my dog’s width. I could be wrong, but none that I have ever seen will fit my dogs.

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